The new Center for Energy and the Environment integrates laboratories, clean rooms, classrooms, office and a large lecture hall into a sunken garden. The specialized facilities for renewable energy research also enhance the engineering neighborhood via their network of gardens and connections to existing buildings. The sustainability research mission of the building users mandated a low-energy solution for a very energy-intensive building type.
Climate concepts are highly individualized for the varying program types, with a consistent emphasis on access to daylight and views. Glazed areas facing onto garden courtyards are the primary daylight source and provide natural ventilation into all office areas. A fine-tuned skylight with integral fixed shading provides daylight to deeper graduate student areas.
Air cascade from office areas to laboratories and clean rooms is functional in both mechanical and natural ventilation mode, minimizing energy for moving and conditioning outside air.
Transsolar developed the concepts, analyzed and optimized the performance of the architectural and mechanical systems. Extensive thermal and daylight simulation was used for tuning of façade systems to the shading and daylight requirements for each individual space, and additional concepts including solar chimneys, earth ducts, lecture hall natural ventilation, fan power minimization, and heat shift were explored in detail. Transsolar provided extensive advice on implementation of radiant systems and performed life cycle cost analysis of façade shading and glazing options.
As a demonstration of the activities within, the building is designed to meet high standards for sustainable construction and has reached LEED Silver equivalency.